Appeal in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by Attorney General LeRoy S. Zimmerman v. The Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania.
John E. Kelly, Senior Deputy Attorney General, with him, John J. Calabro, Deputy Attorney General, Douglas P. Yauger, Chief Deputy Attorney General, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for plaintiff.
Edward F. Mannino, Of Counsel: Thomas G. Saylor, Jr., with him, Raymond F. Scully, Baskin, Flaherty, Elliott & Mannino, P.C., for defendant.
Judge Colins, and Senior Judges Barbieri and Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Kalish. This decision was reached to the resignation of Judge MacPhail.
[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 643]
The Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania (Bell) has filed preliminary objections to a complaint in equity filed by the Attorney General. For the reasons set forth below, we overrule the preliminary objections.
[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 644]
The Attorney General, acting on behalf of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, filed a complaint in equity with this court alleging that Bell was engaging in unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in violation of section 3 of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (Consumer Law).*fn1 The focus of the complaint is Bell's method of selling two internal wire maintenance (IWM) plans, the "Basic Plan" and the "Guardian Plan," to new telephone service customers.
The complaint makes the following pertinent allegations:
17. [W]hen new connect customers telephone Bell for the purpose of instituting residential telephone service, the Bell service representative, as part of Bell's sales presentation, enters into a dialogue which is purportedly an objective, unbiased assessment of the new connect customers' telephone needs;
20. However, Bell service representatives fail to provide unbiased, objective information and recommendations;
21. In truth and in fact, regardless of the information provided by new connect customers in numerous instances Bell service representatives:
A. Unilaterally and without request enroll new connect customers in the Guardian or basic IWM plans;
B. Strongly recommend the Guardian or basic IWM plan when, based on the information gathered by the service representative, such a
[ 121 Pa. Commw. Page 645]
service plan would be unnecessary, duplicative or provide for repairs that are not the ...